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Hawks' Clement aims for Kenyans at NJCAA nationals

May 18, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

Hagerstown vs. Kenya hardly seems like a fair fight in distance running.

With the way Tony Clement keeps improving, however, Hagerstown might actually be able to land a few punches this weekend at the NJCAA Division I Track & Field Championships in Coffeyville, Kan.

Clement, a freshman at Hagerstown Community College, is ranked fourth in the men's 1,500-meter run with his season-best time of 3 minutes, 49.83 seconds. The top three are all Kenyans, led by Central Arizona's Tyson David (3:45.92).

"I just want to improve again as best I can," Clement said.

He placed third in the mile at the NJCAA indoor championships in March in a school-record 4:10.56. Before that race, his best mile time was 4:17.50. At Windber (Pa.) High School last year, his best 1,600 (a few feet shy of a mile) was 4:27.

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Clement said his 3:49 in the 1,500 "is like running a 4:07 mile, so it's an improvement. ... It's just been amazing with my drops in time. It's a credit to the coaching staff here and their knowledge."

The 1,500 trials are Friday. The finals are Saturday.

The HCC women will be represented at nationals by freshman Ashley Lockard, a Clear Spring graduate, and sophomore Brittany Strite, a Boonsboro graduate.

They're each qualified to run the 10,000 Friday and the 5,000 Saturday. HCC distance coach Brian Ferrari said they'll "decide on the way out" which of the two races they'll run, if not both.

Lockard, who won six state titles in high school, is ranked fifth in the 10,000 (39:44.47) and 10th in the 5,000 (18:34.76). South Plains' Sally Kipyego is the top seed in both with times of 34:09.24 and 16:13.39.

"There's a lot more competition than in high school," Lockard said. "It makes me want to push harder to get back to the top where I was."

Strite is sixth in the 10,000 (39:53.89). She's not in the top 10 in the 5,000.

"I want to try to run both, but I'm concentrating on the 10,000," Strite said. "I just want to try to PR."

While this will be Strite's final competition with the Hawks, she said it probably won't be the end of her collegiate running career.

"I got a scholarship offer to run for Robert Morris," she said.

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